Why is Fence Height so Regulated?
If you have ever thought about installing a fence, or are currently starting that process, chances are that you have encountered the concept of height limitations. Most fences, especially residential fences, are not allowed to be over a certain height. In fact, the height of your fence is a very regulated thing, and at many levels. And all of the rules, regulations, and suggestions may vary according to the position and layout of the property you wish to fence off. It is important to consider your particular property and local requirements when deciding on a fence height.
You may be thinking to yourself, it is my property, I should be allowed to do whatever I want with my fence, and build it however high I please. However, there are many reasons you should consider limiting the height of your fence. There are local laws regulating fence heights, HOA restrictions, and even personal comfort reasons why you would not want to build a fence over a certain height. Below are the three main reasons you should keep any fence installations below a certain height.
High Fences can Block Light and Air
You might be looking to get the maximum amount of privacy possible for your yard, and thus think that installing an incredibly high fence is the way to go. After all, the higher the fence, the more prying eyes you can block, and the more privacy you get. Your yard should be your haven, and it is easier to enjoy the space if you know you can do so in private. A privacy fence can greatly increase comfort and ease of mind. However, a privacy fence that is built too high has the potential to block more than just prying eyes.
High fences do not only protect you from nosy neighbors, they can also block light and air. Blocking some wind can be helpful, as it can help prevent erosion and protect any plants you might be keeping in your yard. However, blocking too much airflow, like with an overly tall fence can be a bad thing. The area will feel more stagnant, and will be much warmer in the summer without a bit of breeze. A high fence can also block light, which will be detrimental to any plants in your yard. A bit of shade can be nice, but too much will make the area feel darker and less open. You head outside to your yard to enjoy the great outdoors, for some fresh air and vitamin D, but a fence built too high can take away both of those things.
The second reason you might need to restrict the height of your fence is due to HOA restrictions. This section will not apply to everyone. Not every home or every neighborhood belongs to an HOA that strictly monitors and regulates fence heights, or even to an HOA in general. This section only applies to homeowners that have to deal with strict HOA regulations regarding fence height, and even then, it might be possible to acquire permission to build a higher fence.
A HOA, if you have one, will most likely have regulations stipulating how high members are allowed to build fences. This is for many reasons. The first and foremost is that an HOA is usually supposed to regulate house facades in the neighborhood. One poorly maintained house facade has the potential to lower property values for the whole block. Your HOA will probably want to ensure your fence is not so high it becomes unsightly. Your HOA must also take into consideration the neighborhood as a whole. A particularly high fence can have negative ramifications for your neighbors. You could potentially be blocking light and air flow to your neighbors homes. Beyond obeying HOA regulations, being a good neighbor is always a good idea.
The last, and potentially most important reason you cannot have fences over a certain height is local laws. Most residential areas will have very specific guidelines governing fence heights. These regulations can be very strict, and can be specific to certain neighborhoods, streets, and even your position on the block. For example, a house on the corner might have different rules than one in the middle of the block. Local laws usually stipulate that a front yard fence must be lower in height than a backyard fence. This may seem an insignificant aesthetic detail, but it is actually very important. Your front yard usually borders the street, and an overly tall fence can block sightlines for drivers. This can be very dangerous. It is possible in some cases to get special dispensation to build a higher fence then usually allowed, but that is up to the discretion of your local building and code department.